Hi, I’m Shama Kern with Thai Healing Massage Academy. Welcome to another edition of our Thai Massage tips and tricks series. Today’s topic is what’s the difference between stretching and traction in Thai Massage. Now, tractioning is something that is generally not much used in massage therapy outside of Thai Massage, and that’s why this is a good question. So what is a stretch, and what is tractioning move? Let me show you this. I will demonstrate it on one of the most well known moves in Thai Massage, which is a hamstring stretch. And this looks like that. I am pushing the foot forward while leaning down with my right hand on her hamstrings. These are the hamstrings muscles, and what I’m trying to do is create a bigger range of motion by pushing the lower leg forward. Now many people say the purpose is to lengthen the muscles. That’s not exactly true. They are not getting any longer. What happens is that they are relaxing and that they are letting go of this built-up contraction and tension. So this here is a stretch. It stretches the hamstrings muscles. Now let’s move on to a traction move, and we’re using the leg again. Now in this case, I’m just fixing her ankle with my left hand and holding her foot with my right hand, and now I’m leaning to the right. That is a tractioning move now. So there is no stretching involved, there are no muscles involved at all. What happens is that the hip joint, the knee joint, and the ankle joint are all being tractioned, meaning I am pulling on the foot. So that lengthens everything and it opens up joint space in those joints that I just mentioned. So why do we want to do that anyway? Well, the reason is quite simply gravity. Gravity constantly compresses all those joints. Anytime you’re standing, and even if you’re sitting, gravity is pushing you down and is compressing the joint space. And the other factor is aging, where slowly there is some deterioration happening in the body. So when you traction joints, it opens up the joint space and it feels very releasing. It feels opening. It is good for you. So that’s in a nutshell what tractioning is all about. I mean I could launch into a longer explanation, but the basic difference is that stretching works on a muscle, and tractioning works on opening joint space. So now the difference between stretching and tractioning is not a black or white situation. Sometimes you can actually combine those two. Let me show you how. In this case I am working on the hand and I am interlacing my fingers with her fingers. Now I do two things. One is that I am bending the fingers up. That’s the stretching part of the move, and at the same time I hook my fingertips into the top of her hands like this and I’m pulling back towards me. Now I’m exaggerating a little bit. In reality, I don’t really want to pull the whole arm. I am holding her arm around the wrist with my left hand, and now I’m just pulling back a little bit on the fingers while I am bending them up. So now I’m combining stretching with traction. So you can do them separately. You either traction, or you stretch, or there are some options – you can’t do that with all moves – but there are some cases where you can combine traction and stretching in Thai Massage. And if you want to find out more about this, we have very detailed online training programs. You can find them by going to our website www.thaihealingmassage.com. Or,
if you want to have a little introduction, you can subscribe to our free course at www.thaihealingmassage.com/free.